Willie Nelson – The First Rose Of Spring: Album Review

Willie Nelson releases his 70th solo studio album, a couple of months after his 87th birthday. It contains 11 new studio performances plus 2 new songs co-written by Willie and long-time friend and producer Buddy Cannon.

Release Date: 3rd July 2020

Label: Legacy Recordings

Format: CD / LP / Digital

Like the First Rose of Spring  is something we all look forward to in our gardens, Willie Nelson’s fans will not be disappointed in their expectations of some new music from this country legend; and although it is late in his career, he shows that he is definitely not past his best. This album is a more than adequate addition to his ‘musical garden’. It is lovely and reflective and shows Nelson at his best.

Don’t Let the Old Man In epitomises and reflects Willie’s outlook on life; try to stay forever young, celebrate each day and don’t let those ‘old man’ traits takeover.

Country artists singing about their misdemeanours and criminal connections are common and Willie’s testimony and felonious traits are expressed in the upbeat  I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised and I’ll Break Out Again Tonight. There isn’t much regret shown in the former and the  personal, determined spirit is strong in the latter.

Willie’s ability to take a classic song and add his own expert touch to it has not waned throughout the years. His renditions of Just Bummin’ Around, which  has a relaxed swing  delivery, and the more orchestral  Yesterday When I was Young, both include super, delightful mini guitar solos showing that less is more .

Love Just Laughed  and Blue Star demonstrate Willie Nelson’s current songwriting powers have not diminished either and in this writers opinion even surpasses some of the questionable material coming out of Nashville these days. 

As an interpreter of songs he is second to none. Our Song and Stealing Home  illustrate this. No Willie Nelson album would be complete without a cowboy song. We Are The Cowboys has the root’n-toot’n Texan prairie rambling heroes  but this song’s message is that the modern cowboy should believe ‘topically’ in the freedom that racial harmony should bring and progress from the kind of freedom the ‘old fashioned’ cowboy of the past enjoyed.

The First Rose of Spring intimately blends new songs, interpretations of new artists’ songs and classic standards. It is sublime in its presentation and production and comes fresh from him winning the 2020 Best Country Solo Performance Grammy Award – Willie Nelson’s 10th overall – in his 87th year. If this album had been released  decades ago, it may have reached ‘classic’ status.

Listen to We Are The Cowboys below.

Willie Nelson: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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